MSNBC anchor and Wake Forest University professor Melissa Harris-Perry traveled to Iowa with a group of 22 Wake Forest students for the university’s “Wake the Vote” program. They were there to watch the caucus results unfold in real time. However, the trip was spoiled because of an alleged attack on Harris-Perry’s life.
She was in her hotel lobby Monday night when she said a man came dangerously close to her, threatening her incoherently and invoking Nazi Germany, according to The Huffington Post.
Harris-Perry recounts the details of the incident in a letter/statement. She writes:
“…So what is it that you teach?”
“I am a professor of political science.”
“My wife is a professor of communications.”
“Does she teach here in Iowa?”
“What I want to know is how you got credentialed to be on MSNBC.”
I am not sure if it is how he spat the word credentialed, or if it is how he took another half step toward me, or if it is how he didn’t respond to my question, but the hairs on my arm stood on end. I ignored it. Told myself everything was ok.
“Well. It is not exactly a credential…” I began.
“But why you? Why would they pick you?”
Now I know something is wrong. Now his voice is angry. Now a few other people have stopped talking and started staring. Now he is so close I can feel his breath. Before I can answer his unanswerable question of why they picked me, he begins to tell me why he has picked me.
“I just want you to know why I am doing this.”
Oh – there is a this. He is going to do a this. To me. And he is going to tell me why.
I freeze. Not even me – the girl in me. The one who was held down by an adult neighbor and as he raped her. The one who listened as he explained why he was doing this. She freezes.
I freeze. He speaks. And moves closer. Is there a knife under the coat? A gun? Worse?
And I can’t hear all the words. But I catch “Nazi Germany” and I catch “rise to power.”
During that strange encounter all she thought about was her students’ safety and if the creepy man had a weapon. The man runs off and gets into his car after Harris-Perry and her group confronted him. In her statement, she said the security was of no use and that they went on about their business.
Deep gratitude for all expressions of concern. Had common response-felt fine 1st 24 hours then shaky/ teary. Better now.
— Melissa Harris-Perry (@MHarrisPerry) February 3, 2016
She and her students made it home safe but many people were still concerned for them.
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) February 3, 2016
Melissa Harris-Perry's account of almost being attacked at IA caucuses is terrifying. https://t.co/ZlDhYffdwS
— Gabriel Arana (@gabrielarana) February 3, 2016
— Jamila Baker (@jamila_jb) February 3, 2016
Scary & enraging racist/sexist violence flamed by GOP: Melissa Harris-Perry Narrowly Escapes Attack At Iowa Caucuses https://t.co/wV2Rx4064Q
— Molly Shack (@mollyshack) February 3, 2016
— TrueBlackNews (@trueblacknews) February 3, 2016
This is not a game. The political rhetoric of hate is encouraging & enhancing already existing prejudices https://t.co/keSgkIPqFw
— Sam White (@samwhiteout) February 3, 2016